“But God, who is rich in mercy, was moved by the intense love with which He loved us, and when we were dead by reason of our transgressions, He made us live with the life of Christ. By grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2: 4 -7
Dead – that is exactly how I felt after my abortion. Waves of pain, guilt, shame, disgust, and despair. I was dead by reason of my transgression. Whatever relationship I had with God was now severed beyond repair. Little did I know that my abortion would be the beginning of a very long journey into the arms of Jesus.
At the time, all I could see was what I did, and think, how could I? All I could feel was emptiness. What would people think if they knew? I killed my unborn child. I was supposed to protect my unborn child, not destroy it.
On the outside, I could forget about it and pretend that everything was great. If I could just stuff it way down I could escape all of the pain. I had a life to live, and when I wasn’t thinking about my abortion, I had a good life. Besides, I would not let most people know the truth about what I did so almost no one had any idea. Things seemed the same, but as we all know, things are not always what they seem.
In private, I would beat myself up. I would condemn myself and be alone in my shame & misery. I would cry all the tears that I couldn’t in public. I would hate myself and tell myself that I was no good. Whatever good there was in me didn’t matter anymore. I killed my baby. There was nothing else after that. Everything else was fantasy, everything else was a lie. I knew the truth. I knew what I did even if others didn’t.
But, so did God. He knew everything and He loved me anyway. That was not something I thought about during the years of my darkness and years of my prideful, pitiful self. Yes, I knew in the back of my head that God loves us all, that God forgives, but not me. Not this time.
Of course, I wanted His forgiveness. I begged for it. I cried and told Him how sorry I was. And I believed with all my heart that He knew how sorry I was and He wanted me to know His forgiveness. And although I wanted and needed it, I couldn’t believe that I was forgiven. I could not and would not forgive myself.
There it is. My pride. My pride held me back. My pride would not let me feel forgiveness from God or from myself. However, I honestly didn’t know that it was pride keeping me away from God and His forgiveness. I never would have thought that I was being prideful until one time during confession when the priest told me that it was pride that kept me from accepting God’s forgiveness.
I was floored. Pride? I wasn’t proud of what I did. I was just acknowledging what a horrible sin I committed. My holding onto my sin was my way of paying for what I did. Wallowing in my misery and not letting go of it was my way to remind myself. It was my reality. If I didn’t let myself feel the pain of my abortion, wouldn’t that mean that I wasn’t sorry for it?
He told me that my pride kept me from forgiveness because when I didn’t accept God’s forgiveness, I was essentially telling Him that Jesus dying on the cross wasn’t enough to cover my sin. Everyone else’s, maybe, but not mine because mine was just too horrible to forgive. I had never thought about it that way.
There is a difference between pride and humility and my first “Entering Canaan” mercy retreat a couple of years ago was when I finally understood it. Mercy retreat…the perfect name because it’s why we’re all here. At that first retreat, I realized God’s love for me. That was just one of the graces I received that weekend. God graced me with the knowledge of His love for me. He gave me the grace to understand His perfect & abundant love for me.
In His love, guided by the help of others, I was able to see that my pride was keeping me from Him. I was able to see that my pride made me resist the forgiveness and mercy He wanted to bestow upon me. He wants to bestow it upon all of us.
Pride keeps us from really knowing God’s love and His mercy. God wants to heal us. He wants us to be free so that we can be the people we were created to be. To be joyful in the knowledge that we are children of God and He only wants what is best for us. We need to let go of our pride and allow Him to heal us. To do that, we have to trust in Him and have faith in Him.
Humility is what we feel when we realize that we need God. Humility lets us see that we cannot make up for our abortions. There is nothing we can do, but it’s already been done because Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He paid the price for all of our sins, including our abortions. There is no sin that Jesus’ blood can’t cover. We need to be humble enough to accept the graces that God gives us, including the grace of healing.
I have known that all my life and yet, after my abortion, I disregarded it. I wouldn’t let it apply to me because my sin was unforgivable. Without knowing it, I clung to my pride and let God’s mercy allude me for years.
Fortunately, God can take our sins and do good with them. He certainly didn’t want me to have an abortion. However, God took my abortion and used it to turn my life around, to turn my life toward Him. It was through His graces that my pride and shame turned into humility. It is because of His graces that I have accepted His healing as a gift.
I will always feel sorrow for my abortion and I will always regret it. That will never go away and that’s ok. The difference now is that I don’t feel the shame and despair of my abortion. My shame has been dissolved and it is with humility that I can fully acknowledge that I’ve been forgiven. The inner peace I now have and my strong love for God are two of the greatest gifts He has ever given me.